Retired NFL Player, Myron Lewis
A dedicated role model who fully embraces his family, friends, teammates and those in need
When Myron Lewis was growing up, there was no shortage of positive role models surrounding him. Raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in a two-parent household with lots of siblings, he experienced an upbringing that emphasized sharing and caretaking. “I was blessed to have six older brothers and two older sisters,” he said. “We slept in bunk beds and shared clothes. Yes, it was pretty rough at times, but my mom and dad always made sure we had food on the table and a roof over our heads.”
When Myron was eight years old, a close friend moved to a community with a more competitive Pop Warner football league than the one Myron played for, and the family encouraged him to come live with them and play football in their son’s league. So for several years, he lived with the Ratkowski family – parents Steve and Kim, sons Derrick and Brett, and daughter Amber – in Pembroke Pines, while still spending plenty of free time with his own parents and siblings in Fort Lauderdale.
Steve Ratkowski, his friend’s father, was the Pop Warner coach; he saw Myron’s potential as an athlete and made sure the boy had plenty of time on the field. The judgment would turn out to be sound: Myron went on to play football at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and then embark upon a pro career back in his home state of Florida as a cornerback with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The financial struggles that characterized his upbringing were always offset by the emotional support he received from his large family. He learned firsthand the value of reaching out to someone in need. “I try to be the best role model I can,” he says. “For kids especially. Everyone needs some type of support, the kind of support that will uplift your spirit and make you feel better about yourself.”
Myron also learned respect and self-sufficiency from his parents. “They instilled in me to always be respectful, never be rude; and to treat others how you want to be treated,” he said. “My mom was someone who never got in trouble for smoking, never got arrested, never got a ticket. She was just always doing the right things and treating others with respect. And my mom is one of the nicest ladies that you’ll ever meet.”
At Vanderbilt University, Myron continued to exert himself both in the classroom and on the football field. The rigors of college took some adjusting, he said – but he stayed focused and took it slow, making sure his first priority was always academics and not sports. He graduated from Vanderbilt University in less than four years with a bachelor’s degree in Human and Organizational Development. He hopes that once his football career ends, he’ll use these skills to realize the longstanding dream of helping his mother open a restaurant.
The other abiding influence in Myron’s life as he grew was his beloved grandmother, who lived with the family for most of Myron’s childhood and died when he was a young teen. She battled diabetes throughout her adulthood, eventually undergoing the amputation of a leg as a result of the disease.
“That was rough on my whole family, but my grandmother always stayed high-spirited,” he remembered. “She was always encouraging people; she always knew the right thing to say. But at the same time, she was never afraid to speak the truth to anyone. She could tell you about yourself. She never wanted us to worry about her. She always told us she was going to be okay.”
Other members of the family suffer from diabetes as well, and concern for them as well as the wish to honor his grandmother inspired Myron and three of his brothers – Hamin, Hanik and Hanil Milligan — to start a foundation dedicated to diabetes research. The foundation is called the Ismay Raymond Foundation (www.ismayraymond.org), named after Myron’s grandmother. As they point out, there are 23.6 million people in the U.S. living with diabetes; 1.6 million new cases are diagnosed among adults each year. “We mostly want to find a cure,” Myron said. “We want to talk more about prevention also, and help people figure out what they can do if they are diagnosed with diabetes.”
Steadfast devotion to his family, friends and fans, along with a lifelong commitment to doing what is right and showing respect for others, are just some of the characteristics of Myron Lewis that make him stand out as an Insightful Player® team member.
Instant replay of Myron’s guiding principles:
Treat everyone who crosses your path with respect.
Remember that what you do reflects on your family and others who identify with you (such as your team). Be sure your actions are making them as well as yourself proud.
Support the causes you care most about with a goal of making the world a healthier, safer or happier place.
Seek out good examples among your family, friends and community members.
Try to emulate those role models you admire most.
Do what you believe to be the right thing in every situation. Even if it is the harder choice, it will come back to you with blessings.
Carry yourself as a role model for others. Make your actions reflect your beliefs and values.
Recognize and appreciate the support that others offer you, and don’t be afraid to lean on them when you need to.
Keep academic success among your highest priorities.
10. Take the best care you can of your body by eating the right foods, exercising regularly, and paying attention to health concerns.
The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of her newly released book, INSIGHTFUL PLAYER: Football Pros Lead A Bold Movement of Hope. Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr. Her father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach and baseball coach (as well as high school and college athlete). He used sports to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills. The Insightful Player® initiative was created to help make our world a much better place by inspiring youth. To contact Chrissy Carew visit http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call 603-897-0610.
©2011 Insightful Player, LLC
Myron Lewis is a valued member of the Insightful Player® team. To be named to this team, one must be a person of integrity, such as a current or former NFL player, who shares their personal message of hope for the sole purpose of lifting the spirits of all, especially children.